These startups are prioritising women’s health and wellness in India
Do you remember the last time your mother, wife, or sister went for a medical checkup?
While this highlights a concerning problem that is all too common among women in India, women, in their quest to juggle multiple roles, often de-prioritise their own health by neglecting regular checkups and preventive care.
Lack of awareness about the importance of regular checkups and social stigma around sexual and reproductive health can be attributed as the probable causes.
However, not everything is doom and gloom as many women entrepreneurs are offering a helping hand with innovative ideas and solutions to cater to the needs of women’s health and wellness.
HerStory has compiled a list of five women-run startups that are providing holistic solutions to promote accessibility and awareness about women’s healthcare.
Cervical cancer is the third-most-common type of cancer in India, with an incidence rate of 18.3% (123,907 cases), and the second leading cause of death in the nation, with a mortality rate of 9.1% as per GLOBOCAN 2020.
Experts say the problem lies in the hesitation to take the pap smear test–recommended once every three years for women aged 21 to 65. Lack of awareness, the taboo surrounding reproductive health, and judgmental gynaecologists are some other reasons for the rising cases among women in India.
To solve the problem, entrepreneur trio Anirban Palit, Palna Patel, and Sayantani Pramanik came together to make screening and early detection for cervical cancer accessible to women in both rural and urban areas through their femtech startup Pragmatech Solutions.
Founded in 2019, the Vadodara-based startup has come up with CerviCheck self-sampling kits, priced at Rs 500, for urban women. The user must insert the device in the body to collect the sample, after which the gynaecologist will check and share the results.
For rural women, the startup has come up with CerviCheck Assay, which works like a pregnancy test, and detects biomarkers of the presence of any lesion.
“Any technician with minimum experience of handling samples will be able to work with this. We hope to partner with NGOs to conduct mass screening programmes,” Sayantani says.
Rajpreet Kaur, while working in the corporate world for 15 years, discovered her calling as an entrepreneur and founded Frenztastic in 2020 to provide personalised solutions to cater to women’s happiness.
While juggling between being a mother and her professional life, Kaur realised that though women have more opportunities in the present day, they continue to face a plethora of issues—the glass ceiling, body shaming, work-life balance, marriage pressure, patriarchal mindset, financial dependence, and health issues.
Kaur started the Say Cheese platform under Frenztastic to help Indian women in navigating the triangle of career, relationships, and health.
The startup measures a person’s happiness levels through its proprietary assessment—Happiness Evaluation Report (HER). The user is then recommended coaching services that help identify the root cause of their challenges and provides solutions through technology-enabled modules.
Kochi-based FemiSafe was founded in 2020 by Noureen Aysha and her husband, Naseef Nazar, to offer a range of period care and grooming products.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the couple noticed sanitary pads piled up to be picked up by sanitation workers with bare hands. Nazar then suggested that his wife could raise awareness about menstrual cups as she also had been using one for years, ultimately leading to the birth of FemiSafe.
The startup offers period care such as menstrual cups and menstrual sterilisers, which are electrical, affordable, and made of food-grade silicone. “We were the first in the Indian market to launch this,” says Noureen.
Under the grooming products vertical, the company offers face razors and an aloe gel combo along with body razors and acne pimple patches. With their price range starting at around Rs 299, the brand’s target audience includes college students, working professionals, and mothers from Tier II, III, and IV cities.
FemiSafe products are available on online marketplaces like Amazon, Flipkart, its own website, and offline pharmacies in and around Kochi.
Founded by Achitha Jacob in 2020, Proactive For He is a Bengaluru-based startup that offers a full-stack and holistic approach to women’s sexual and reproductive health.
While studying at Harvard Business School, Jacob realised that most women de-prioritise their health due to the stigma associated with menstrual, sexual, and reproductive health issues.
“This stigma attached, coupled with inaccessibility to non-judgemental support, have long prevented many women from addressing their healthcare needs,” says Jacob.
This led her to drop out of Harvard to launch a femtech startup, Proactive for Her.
The platform offers three key products–teleconsultations, diagnostics, and long-term programmes. Women can consult various specialists about their concerns such as sexual health, hair and skincare concerns, PCOS, weight management, and menstrual health.
The startup has an in-house team of gynaecologists, endocrinologists, dermatologists, pathologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and nutritionists.
Founded in 2020 by Vaishnavi Raju, the Hyderabad-based startup focuses on women’s healthcare by initiating a friendly conversation around sexual intimacy, menopause, fertility, pregnancy, and menstruation.
The startup has two wings—Hera Now, an ecommerce platform that sells women’s health and wellness products and services, and Herapedia, a content platform for conversations around women’s health.
The startup aims to make women’s healthcare more approachable and accessible by providing an array of women’s wellness products.